Schools have creative play areas in the younger classrooms, Pre-K, Kindergarten, and First Grade. They are called learning centers. Children love these centers. These are the favorite areas of the classroom. Some learning centers are the home center, art center, block center, library center, dramatic play center, writing center and some specialty centers, such as a grocery store center or bank center. Sometimes a teacher will set up a sensory table with sand or water. Creative play areas could be set up in your home to duplicate these learning play areas for your developing child.
These creative play areas could be organized in areas about the house where you have a little extra space. It wouldn’t have to be all in one room, either. You could see where you could have little free space and organize a play area with a specific theme. Perhaps in your child’s room you had a corner you could use as a home center with a kitchen playset, a cradle and a highchair for a baby doll, and if space allows, child-size table and chairs.
Do you have an area where you have children’s books? Turn that into a library center. You could incorporate a few puppets and stuffed animals for the children to read to or act out stories with.
The art center could be a small table and chairs with supplies, such as paper, crayons, markers, pencils and water colors. This could double as a writing center, where the children could practice writing or doodling and try to write words or letters.
Do you have a place to hang or place dress-up costumes for a dramatic play area? Children love to dress-up and role play. Save your old Halloween costumes, old clothes, shoes, hats, and purses to create props for this center. Have boxes or bins to place general items together, such as a purse box or a shoe box. Label the boxes with pictures or words for better organization. Their imagination can flourish and have hours of enjoyment from this play area.
Sand and water sensory areas might be best in a backyard area. This would be a good area to also have a playhouse, swing set or activity tent for physical activity and pretend play.
Children like to construct things from blocks. Maybe there is area in your home or a child’s bedroom where you can have an assortment of blocks. Perhaps on a shelf or bookcase at their level so the blocks could be organized or in boxes and bins for similar sized blocks. A flat smooth floor area work better than carpet so block structures do not collapse too easily. Small figurines, cars and other props can be in this center to enhance play and creativity.
Taking things around the home, organizing them in small creative centers can give your children hours of enjoyment and is beneficial in your child’s development. They will be creative and innovative in their play. They will learn to cooperate, share and even problem solve. They will be busy and productive and love learning in a creative and fun way.